Sir Shane Leslie:
John Randolph [Shane] Leslie was born on 24 September 1885 at Stratford House, 11 Granville Place, in London, the eldest of the four sons of Sir John Leslie, second baronet (1857-1944), and his wife, Léonie Blanche (1857-1943), pianist, youngest daughter of Leonard Jerome of New York, and sister of Lady Randolph Churchill. He was educated at Ludgrove School, London, Eton College, the Sorbonne and King's College, Cambridge. At Cambridge Leslie became a Roman Catholic and an Irish nationalist and began to use the Irish form of his name "Shane". In 1912 he married Marjorie Ide (died 1951) with whom he had two sons and one daughter. In 1958 he married Iris Laing. Leslie was passionate about the cause of United Ireland and had much contact with his first cousin, Winston Churchill, about the issues connected with Home Rule.
Leslie's many publications included: Songs of Oriel; The Isle of Columcille; The End of a Chapter, 1916; Verses in Peace and War; The Oppidan, 1922; Life of Cardinal Manning; Life of Sir Mark Sykes, 1922; Doomsland, 1923; Memoir of Brig.-Gen. Gordon Shephard; Masquerades, 1924; An Anthology of Catholic Poets, 1925; The Cantab; George the Fourth, 1926; The Skull of Swift, 1928; The Greek Anthology, 1929; The Anglo-Catholic, 1929; A Ghost in the Isle of Wight, 1929; Memoir of J. E. C. Bodley, 1930; The Epic of Jutland, 1930; Sublime Failures, 1932; The Oxford Movement, 1933; Poems and Ballads, 1933; The Passing Chapter, 1934; The Script of Jonathan Swift and other Essays, 1935; American Wonderland, 1936; Men were Different: Studies in Late Victorian Biography, 1937; Sir Evelyn Ruggles-Brise, 1938; The Film of Memory, 1938; The Life of Mrs Fitzherbert, 1939; Letters of Mrs Fitzherbert, 1940; From Cabin Boy to Archbishop, 1942; Letters of Cardinal Vaughan to Lady Herbert of Lea, 1943; The Irish Tangle for English Readers, 1946; Salutation to Five, 1951; Memoir of Cardinal Gasquet, 1954; Shane Leslie's Ghost Book, 1955; Long Shadows, 1966.
Leslie died on 14 August 1971.
Leslie's projected biography of Beatty:
Leslie had a profound interest in the Royal Navy and a close friendship with 1st Lord Beatty, Commander in Chief of the Grand Fleet (1916-1919) and First Sea Lord (1919-1927). Leslie was selected as the biographer of Lord Beatty, who died in 1936, and he did so much work on the project that by 1948 he was able to tell a correspondent that it was completed. But it was never published. The reason was that Leslie was very well informed about the Admiral's disastrous marriage to Ethel, daughter of the fabulously wealthy American chain store pioneer Marshall Field of Chicago and divorced wife of Arthur Tree, since he was an intimate of Ethel as well as of the Admiral; and the draft of his biography reveals his intention to bring out clearly if dispassionately the consequences of that marriage. Another intimate friend of Leslie's was Eugenie, wife of Captain Bryan Godfrey Faussett, RN, naval equerry to George V and Edward VIII; and Eugenie was Beatty's mistress from about 1916 to 1926. She preserved virtually all Beatty's letters to her, and gave some of them to Leslie for use in the biography. Although she asked Leslie not to reveal her identity she evidently had no objection to his using some of the letters. The 2nd Earl Beatty had, however, totally different ideas on how the story of his father's life should be handled, and flatly refused to allow the story of the disastrous aspects of his marriage and the love affair to have any part in it. In consequence Leslie abandoned the job, which was passed to Rear-Admiral W.S. Chalmers. He produced "The Life and Letters of David, Earl Beatty" (Hodder and Stoughton, 1951).
The collection includes: letters collected by Leslie while working on the biography of Beatty, notes by him, and extracts from a diary, and his manuscript and typescript drafts; letters dealing both with the production of "The Epic of Jutland" and its reception; and letters from Beatty to Eugenie Godfrey Faussett.
Sir Shane Leslie bequeathed his naval papers to Captain Stephen Roskill, first Keeper of the Archives at Churchill Archives Centre, who gave them to the College. The provenance and archival history of the letters from Beatty to Eugenie Godfrey Faussett (SLGF 14-15) is described separately in that section.
The arrangement of the papers is that imposed by Roskill.